COD's Breuder gets faculty 'no confidence' vote
The union representing College of DuPage's 306 full-time faculty members announced Thursday a first-time "no confidence" vote in the leadership of President Robert Breuder, blaming him for helping create "an environment of turmoil, distrust, fear and intimidation."
But a college spokesman quickly dismissed the vote, citing long-running strained relations between the union and Breuder. He also noted faculty members who voted represent only about 10 percent of the college's employees.
Union leaders say the secret ballot vote was tabulated on Sept. 10 after they met to discuss Breuder's earlier plans to publicly thank Gov. Pat Quinn during commencement ceremonies for his commitment to the school to provide a $20 million state construction grant, though Quinn had not yet made the commitment. Quinn later withdrew that grant.
Union President Glenn Hansen said the vote included 250 of 306 eligible members with 189 voting "no confidence." The remaining votes included 53 faculty members who supported Breuder and eight "spoiled" ballots.
"This vote of no confidence reflects a deep and profound discouragement with the leadership of the current president," Hansen said. "Such a vote has never occurred before at the College of DuPage. It highlights a sad chapter in the history of this excellent educational institution."
Hansen said Breuder's tenure has been marked with pitched battles between the college administration and its employees, including full-time faculty.
"(Breuder) has contributed to the creation of an environment of turmoil, distrust, fear and intimidation," Hansen said. "The high-profile political infighting on the board of trustees is just a recent example of the atmosphere on campus that has arisen during the tenure and leadership of Dr. Breuder."
College spokesman Joseph Moore said Breuder would not comment on the faculty vote.
"It isn't news to anyone that the relationship between the full-time faculty union and (Breuder) has been strained since the last contract negotiation in 2011," Moore said. "This vote is limited to full-time faculty only, who comprise roughly 10 percent of the college's employee base."
Breuder has run community colleges since 1981, when he was named president of Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport at the age of 36. He served there until taking the reins at Harper College in Palatine in 1998. He moved to COD in 2009.
His tenure at Harper was not without its bumps. He was given a similar no-confidence vote in April, 2001, with the faculty senate complaining of his confrontational style. But he also was credited with bolstering the college's finances.
Hansen said a formal letter detailing the vote was emailed Thursday to Erin Birt, chairwoman of the COD board of trustees.
Birt said the board would have no comment until it can discuss the matter as a group.
Hansen said faculty members "take no pride in this vote of no confidence."
"We bring this matter to the attention of the board of trustees in the hope that they will understand the seriousness of our concerns, and that they will take action to improve the situation," he said.
Moore, however, said indications are that employee satisfaction rates at COD are quite high.
"Overall, the campus climate, as measured in 2014 by a nationally normed employee satisfaction survey administered by an outside agency, is excellent, with scores for 'healthy campus climate' now tying our all-time recorded high," Moore said.
Staff writer Safiya Merchant contributed to this story.